Students voiced concerns about diversity and inclusion at the Slippery Rock University Council of Trustees quarterly business meeting, which was held last Friday in the Smith Student Center.
Dewayne Anderson, Alex Rizutto, Gabriella Lyons and Jenna Temple expressed concerns previously raised regarding plans for the Student Success Center to the council, SRU President Cheryl Norton and other administrators in attendance.
Anderson, a graduate student in SRU’s Student Affairs in Higher Education Program and a graduate assistant in Academic Affairs, said the administration’s focus on recruiting international students takes the focus away from campus diversity overall.
“It’s important to have a diverse student body and international students are a part of that,” he said. “But when you lose the focus on diversity and inclusion for our domestic student population, how can we effectively have an enriching student body that appreciates each other?”
This shift in focus is evidenced by recent retention rates of domestic minority students, Anderson continued.
“Fall to spring retention dropped from 92.4 percent last year to 88 percent this year,” he said. “This is the first year since this data has been kept that we’ve gone below 90 percent.”
Anderson said that there were 14 new international students last fall and 11 were retained this spring, illustrating their small demographic position within the campus community.
Further evidence of this shift is the elimination of the Chief Diversity Officer position and staffing differences between the Office of Global Engagement, responsible for recruiting international students, and Academic Affairs, he said.
Global Engagement has three full time staff members, one interim coordinator for travel abroad services, two secretaries and one temporary staff member, Anderson said. Academic Services office has on faculty member and one graduate assistant.
Other offices that promote the success of domestic minority students are poorly staffed as well, including the Office of Multicultural Development, he added.
Anderson said he felt the meeting went well overall, but felt the students should have been given more time to speak.
“We only had five minutes,” he said. “If students are the voice of this campus and the administration really wants to listen, we should have been given more time.”
Meetings such as this are also lack action, Anderson continued.
“If students voice their opinions and no action is taken, the movement we’ve demonstrated is for nothing.”